Toronto’s buzzing Little Italy has a crown-shaped centrepiece that attracts people from around the city — The Royal Theatre. Beloved for indie movie screenings and exciting live events, its dazzling sign has illuminated the muted greys of the College Street sidewalk for decades. Tucked just beyond the entryway spotlights and sparkling glass doors, however, is a new reason to love The Royal Theatre — Bottega Volo, a warm and friendly bottle shop and grocery in the foyer from the family behind the city’s popular beer hall, Bar Volo, and Birrerria Volo.
Whitney Erin Smith
Scored by passing chatter and infused with the cinema’s charming ambiance, Bottega Volo feels like that mom-and-pop bottle shop you found on your last summer trip to Europe. Rustic wooden shelves, neatly stocked with a vast array of Italian and Spanish pantry items, line the walls, flanked by aged bulbous barrels that act as display stands for an assortment of unique vino and rare beer imports. Humming fridges, originally from the neighbouring Birreria Volo, brim with rows of colourful chilled cans and bottles that offer crisp refreshment at a moment’s notice.
Bottega Volo has been offering moviegoers world-class beverages and snacks in the historic building since last year. “Going in there, we didn’t want to impose or give off the idea that we were changing the cinema,” recalls Bottega Volo owner Julian Morana. “Our participation in the space is strictly to enhance the lobby, bring people through the doors and offer a cinema and neighbourhood experience that Little Italy hasn’t seen before.”
People are often thrilled by their concession options, shares a beaming Morana, pairing bright, fruity wines with classic snacks like tinned anchovies on a fresh baguette or a Toronto-made Volo beer with a few slices of aromatic burrata, then proceeding to enjoy them in the theatre. “Bottle shops have been around for 30 to 50 years,” he explains, “They’re opening up a new world within the service industry and it’s inspiring to be a part of that.”
Bottega Volo: Imports
Whitney Erin Smith
Unique and hard-to-find imports have long been synonymous with the Volo name, and the tradition doesn’t stop at Bottega. New releases always fly off the fridge shelves, always stocked with local brews like Godspeed and Bellwoods. Prefer to shop from home? The rare cans and bottles are available at their online store, but — psst, a secret — there are often surprise in-store exclusives for those who make the trip.
Bottega Volo: Grocery
Bottega Volo’s grocery is chock-full of gleaming tins of juicy Italian tomatoes, squeeze bottles of golden hot honey, hearty frozen meat pies and lasagnas, thin cuts of spicy salami and much more. You’ll even find Toronto favourites at Bottega Volo (like Blackbird Baking Co. baguettes) as part of the Bottega Friends menu. The best part? Everything is available at their online shop, too.
Bottega Volo: Wine and spirits
Fine Italian aperitivo, digestifs and bubbly seltzers join forces with low-intervention and natural wines to give Bottega Volo one of the most impressive and diverse selections in the city that could stand toe-to-toe with international bottle shops. New bottles are released bi-weekly to monthly.
608 College St., bottegavolo.com